I have OCD, and it's hard to manage. My OCD takes the form of germophobia. I also have a little - very little - 'checking' and 'counting', but it's not significant. I know someone who has the 'checking' thing so badly that she would go to the bathroom (toilet) and then get stuck in there for hours, checking and checking, before she could leave. OCD can be an incredible burden and take over your whole life.
My germophobia is usually moderate, but sometimes spikes upward to severe. That means that I can go out and do stuff, meet people and do a small volunteer job - but only using lots of hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes, and only because I'm very fortunate to be able to live alone. If I couldn't live alone, I would be in great distress. For instance, if someone in my household used public transport and then came home and sat on the couch, then I wouldn't be able to sit on that couch again.
I manage by doing things like having a shower after I go out, not before (well, sometimes before as well); washing all my clothes after I get home; spraying inside my car with Glen-20; and dividing my house into clean zones and dirty zones. It's exhausting keeping track of what items I've touched, trying to figure out that item's whole history of what it might have touched and therefore how 'dirty' (germy) it might be; and doing all the cleaning and sanitising of every item that comes into my home, including myself. I have about 4 levels of 'dirtiness' in my head, and am always trying to classify everything I touch into those levels.
It can get overwhelming to cope with. I was actually hoping to find many more people with OCD germophobia here on the forums! I was surprised how few there were, when I joined. It would be great to talk to more germophobes.
I do see a psychiatrist and psychologist and take meds for the OCD, which helps; but I have 5 other MIs (mental illnesses) too, plus childhood trauma, and they have been taking precedence in my therapy so far.
An event is coming up next week about OCD, run by SANE and with a guest from ARCVic , which is the Anxiety Recovery Centre. They specialise in OCD, Hoarding Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Trichotillomania (pulling hair out), PTSD, Panic Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Phobias and Social Anxiety Disorder.
The SANE OCD event will be a text-based event, on a single thread, where you can answer by making posts on the thread. I'm looking forward to it... Here's the link if you want to read more: OCD Discussion Event . We can ask questions, get support for our OCD, find out more and interact with others with OCD. The guest from ARCVic has lived experience too.
I don't have OCD, but my husband does and it manifests in almost the exact same way as yours does. I understand how exhausting it is for you and how hard it is to keep track of everything and prevent cross contamination of the clean and dirty areas/objects.
Massive respect to you for getting help from psychologist/psychiatrist/meds, that's a huge step and good progress in the right direction. Keep it up!
My husband refuses to get any help for his so we just try to manage it ourselves as best as possible. We weren't doing too badly, but had a friend live with us for 6 months last year which (as you would know) just kind of screwed up everything. Almost a year later and we're stil trying to make the house livable again.
That event looks really interesting, I will try to get along to it.
OMG, @TiSoG21 - you had a friend live with you for 6 months? You are absolute heroes! I couldn't do that - I struggle to even lend items to people. I'm not surprised you're still trying to clean and disinfect the house a year later! Your husband must have been so distressed - how amazingy generous!
It's encouraging for me to hear of someone else who presents in a similar way. Thanks also for your encouragement about therapy. Therapy is very, very difficult for OCD germophobia as you have to deliberately contaminate things, which makes everything feel unsafe. (I don't mean 'unsafe' as in suicidal, but 'unsafe' as in fearful germs everywhere and not coping!) I'm not surprised your husband is resistant.
You sound like an incredibly understanding and supportive person for your husband. I really hope to see you at the OCD event and chat more. 🙂
I don't have OCD (although two of my online acquaintances think I have 'OCD-like' obsessions, one of whom is a psychologist... but I disagree), although do have very minor issues with "contamination" so I can only imagine how distressing and exhausting that would be.
Thanks @NatureLover. Interestingly (to me, anyway), my "this object is contaminated because someone else has touched it" wrong-feeling is more related to my relationship with the person and how much I trust them, rather than what they might have been doing prior (e.g. my dad might've been outside doing gardening, at the cinema, public transport, whatever, and I'm ok with him sitting on my couch... but if my neighbour semi-invites herself inside and sits on my couch then it takes me weeks to declassify it from 'contaminated' even though she mostly only stays inside her own apartment). As a kid I didn't like having friends come to my place for the same reason (especially because some people think it's normal to sit on the BED in clothes they've been wearing all day! but I didn't realise I could ask them not to... Not even I can sit on my bed with 'outside clothes' without it being 'contaminated' and needing to wash the sheets) and I would preemptively hide my favourite toys so I wouldn't have to deal with them being 'contaminated'. Nowadays I don't invite people over so I typically don't have that problem except on rare occasions.
The only thing that's mildly annoying for me is that if I'm outside for more than a minute, then when I come back inside my hands feel dirty and I have to wash them to get rid of that feeling even if I don't want to wash them. But it's not at any level above mild annoyance for me, so I'm certainly fortunate there. I know for those with OCD it quickly escalates to be much more upsetting.
@TheVorticon I found your post fascinating! Contamination relating to how much you trust the person is interesting... I have noticed that I use sanitiser when I'm anxious - even when my anxiety is not about germs. Wonder if that's similar?
I also can't sit on my bed with my going-out clothes on. I once had a friend at the time lie on my bed with her feet (with shoes on) on the pillow!! I was horrified! I stripped and washed the entire bed after that.
I also wash my hands first thing after coming home after going out somewhere. It sounds like you are similar to me, @TheVorticon ...
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